Five college campuses, a lot of transfer credits, and emotional burnout on the horizon yet stagnant mental health have been key to my college success. Anyone who knows me knows my twin sister, Taylor, is my college ride-or-die. We have each other’s back, talking daily, and college has strengthened our relationship.
As our semesters wrap up, we catastrophize about how we both want to change majors because we are among incredible classmates who show up with incredible knowledge. We are our own worst critics feeling inferior to those surrounding us.
Coincidentally, a few weeks ago, our “twin-stincts” (or twin instincts) kicked in. I told my sister I joined the service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega to make new friends and she replied, “No way, I am rushing APO.”
When comparing our experiences in rushing APO, we talked about our annoyances with all the icebreakers: asking your major, year, hometown and what you want to do with your life.
The question about what to do in life has come up often. My mom called recently and asked if I knew what I wanted to do after college because, apparently, a family friend was freaking out after a professor told him it was crazy he didn’t know what he wanted to do in life.
IU professors can be as aggravating as my mom when it comes to asking intrusive questions about my future aspirations. Let’s normalize it being OK to have no idea what you are doing after you graduate college.
Jon Acuff wrote an interesting Time Magazine article about 21 things nobody tells you when you graduate college, and here are my three favorite takeaways from the list:
The first quote, “Your 20s are lonelier than you think they’ll be,” does not need an explanation. As a transfer student, I learned to become independent extremely fast. Leaving IU will find me once again making new friends. We must be OK spending time by ourselves.
We might not know what we are going to do, but we cannot expect our lives to stay linear.
The second quote that hit home was his advice to “take risks.” If we assume life is going to be sunshine, rainbows and everything perfect, we will not be ready for when times get lonely and hard. Put yourself out there to achieve great things.
And this is a good shift to my final favorite quote from the article: “Remember, it’s all an audition.”
Acuff talks about this in the working world context, but you can apply this concept to whatever is most applicable in your own life. Ever since we applied to colleges our senior year of high school, we auditioned — we played a role and showed colleges what we could bring to the show.
Fake it until you make it and do not look back.
College has been anything but a linear path for me. I started out sailing collegiately at Fordham University in New York City, where I studied digital technologies and emerging media. Today, I study community health in the School of Public Health at IU.
While not spending forever in college remains a top priority for me, I have been fortunate and strategic about my coursework which has helped me stay ahead of my original graduation date. This does not work for everyone, and if you feel hindered by needing to stay for an unwanted fifth year, remember it is OK to be lonely and take risks.
The icebreaker questions should not be “What is your major?” and “What do you want to do with your life?” Instead, create your own story by navigating your life and conquering college whether it’s by yourself or surrounded by peers.
John Hultquist (he/him) is a junior studying community health with a double minor in urban planning and community development and nutrition.